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2005-07-08 22:37

Londontown, here I am

To be honest it seems performatively overstated to even bother to observe that the town has largely shrugged off the aspects of the attacks that aren't simply sad.

The Tube isn't in worse shape than it is most Sundays, incidentally.

2005-07-08 15:35

We always did like Red Ken

We like him even better now:

I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith - it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I'm proud to be the mayor of that city.

I can't imagine any of Shiny New Labour's front bench making a point about "ordinary, working-class Londoners" on this or pretty much any other occasion. It is also worth noting that Red Ken travels by Tube himself, and that in the days when he was leader of the GLC he was offered, and declined, a place in a nuclear shelter in the event of things going terminally ballistic; he claimed he didn't see any point outliving all his friends and loved-ones in such a way or manner.


2005-07-08 14:07

Of post-terror tunnelbanor and Trappistes

1. Yes we have some tunnelbananana!


"Stanna hemma!"
Mnga fretag i London har gett sina medarbetare ledigt i dag, och polisen uppmanar s mnga Londonbor som mjligt att stanna hemma. Men det r inte mjligt fr alla. Och efter terrorattentatet i gr r det med viss motvilja som Londonborna ger sig ner i tunnelbanan och ombord p bussar.

"Stay Home!"
Many companies have given their workers the day off today, and the police are advising Londoners to stay at home if they can. But that's not possible for everyone. And after yesterday's terrorist attack Londoners are going on the Tube and the buses with a certain reluctance.

Fair enough, we suppose; we were actually mostly looking forward to maybe getting a seat for once. There seem to be a lot of persons around who missed the heyday of the IRA's many bombing campaigns, it seems to us.

2. Tact, trappistes and trademarks

(Watch out; this story may contain traces of Belgium.)

Une abbaye tchque installe Zeliv affirme tre le 7e endroit du monde produire de la bire trappiste. Mais le porte-parole de l'Association internationale trappiste estime que ces bires ne peuvent pas porter le nom de trappiste et l'a fait savoir aux moines-brasseurs tchques.

A Czech abbey in Zeliv claims to be the seventh place in the world producing Trappiste beer. But the spokesperson of the International Trappiste Association considers that the beer can't bear the Trappiste name and has told the Czech monk-brewers so.

The Trappiste Czech monk-brewers, you ask or enquire? Um, no. They're not actually Trappiste monks. D'oh!


2005-07-08 10:56


1. Things, and the doing of them properly

The Lonely Planet Spanish phrasebook is so astonishingly bad, we have finally been goaded into considering writing our own. We're going to use full IPA, incorporating elisions and assimilations across word boundaries, and we're going to sketch some grammar as briskly as our linguistic skills allow. Spanish -ar verbs and -er verbs are conjugated, so far as we can tell, exactly the same except for a wovel, so why have two (2) sets of tables?

2. Things, and the doing of them improperly

We were just plotting a course home with our Routard guide to Londres, and it turns out they use a Tube map other than the sacred iconic one. It is startlingly hard to use, and we can't imagine why they've done that. Their biscuit rations have been cut, for sure.

3. Things, and the doing of them inconveniently

Even with the added weirdness of Spanish bureaucracy, their system of expenses is preferable to Blighty's deranged insistence that (a) a receipt must be provided for everything; and that (b) alcohol isn't reimburseable. (With hindsight, Spain would be the better country for restaurant bills, since the fixed "Menu" invariably includes wine by default.)

The British system wastes my time, it would waste the accountants' time if it wasn't actually just a job-creation scheme on their part, it is petty, tiresome and expensive to administer, and it inspires bewilderment and hilarity among foreign colleagues. (There's nothing quite like going out for a group meal and then having to tell the waitstaff that the silly Englishes need separate receipts for the bill. Oh, the looks you can get!)


2005-07-07 16:13

In other news

1. The Vatican strikes back!

While continuing to falling short of our demand of ex-communication for anyone who defies its many ridiculous policies, the Vatican is nonetheless making progress:

Les catholiques qui "soutiennent publiquement des choix immoraux comme l'avortement" sont en tat de pch mortel et ne devraient pas accder la communion durant la messe, selon un document du Vatican.

Catholiques who "publically support immoral choices such as abortion" are in a state of mortal sin and should not have access to communion at mass, according to a Vatican document.

We suspect that Espain's excellent new gay-marriage law is on their list, too. What, then, does the future hold for the Vatican when it finally achieves its ambition of alienating everyone on the whole of its host continent?

By our Imperial decree, it will be obliged to host all future Olympic Gameses, at its own expense. There are, after all, still Yoorpeans who care about sport.

2. Well done, Irelandland!

An Irelandland of mass immigration, and vair nice about it:

I have been looking at Ireland's new ethnic mix through the - slightly unlikely - eyes of the Adult Literacy Agency.

It was given the responsibility for making sure English language lessons were available free of charge to every immigrant who wanted them.


I asked farmer Kevin O'Duffy from Ballycumber, if he thought it was right that an education budget funded by Irish tax-payers should also buy English lessons for the newcomers.

"Yes, it's right," he said. "They're quite welcome as far as I'm concerned."

Good answer, farmer Kevin O'Duffy from Ballycumber!


2005-07-07 12:33


1. Please to go away; Londontown is shut

1130 Signs on major roads into London warn: "Avoid London. Area closed. Turn on radio"

2. Quite right too

At Marylebone Station in central London BBC News reporter Nicola McGann said there was not a sense of panic or urgency - people were just trying to go about their business.

3. Edgware is not the same thing as Edgware Road

We grew up in Edgware, a very peripheral suburb of Londontown which's tube station did not explode this morning; it is not very near Edgware Road tube station, which did. (The Edgware Road connects central London to Edgware, hence the name.)

Also, neither is spelled "Edgeware".


2005-07-07 11:20


Londontown's public transport infrastructure has apparently taken to exploding.

The thing is, we were planning to travel up there tomorrow on the train. And while we're not especially intimidated by silly terroristes and their silly bombes, we suspect that the train system might be slightly shut for the foreseeable.


2005-07-07 10:27


Well done, Yoorp!

European politicians have thrown out a controversial bill that could have led to software being patented.

The European Parliament voted 648 to 14 to reject the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive.

Responding to the rejection the European Commission said it would not draw up or submit any more versions of the original proposal.

And quite right too. 648 to 18 isn't exactly a hint.


2005-07-06 15:26

Take that, Richard "All-Dawk" Dawkins!

It is the vastly preferable Ulrike Felt, who actually appears to have a clue:

In the 1920s, at the latest, more and more people began to doubt that science could be made accessible to all. And Einstein especially, as I have argued,(1) symbolizes a "farewell to public knowledge" and the simultaneous emergence of a rhetoric of trust: scientists were to be trusted by the public, even when people were not able to follow them. Thus people were ready to abandon the illusion of a broad public appreciation of science, and to trust the scientist as a person. This was clearly expressed by a journalist reporting on Einstein's visit to Paris in 1922: "I declare myself absolutely unable to undertake a personal assessment of Einstein's theory. The questions he raises definitely surpass my capabilities, nor am I interested in them." He adds, however, to explain why it is nevertheless necessary to report about them: "But it cannot be denied that great minds are grappling with [Einstein's ideas]."

We're currently poised one essay away from remarking that the decline of deference to science is part of a more general decline in deference. And only that - there was no Golden Age when The Public actually understood science.


2005-07-06 13:45

Jacques Chirac, liability

Why couldn't the useless old prunt 've stayed at home and kept his big mouth shut? Now Londontown is stuck with a useless overpriced boondoggle - as if it needed more touristes! Coverage of choice: the Graun:

12:25pm: "Am I alone in desperately not wanting to host the Olympics in the UK and at the same time equally desperately not wanting the French to win the vote?" asks Roy Weston. I suspect you're not Roy. I get the impression there's plenty out there who'd take the inconvenience of hosting the Olympics on their doorstep if it meant upsetting the French.

The sooner certain persons realise that Jacques "Chicanery" Chirac isn't "the French" the better, isn't it?


2005-07-06 10:25


1. Globalisation ate my dinner

Take-off from Madrid at 2100 (too early for dinner); landing at Bristle at 2300 (too late for dinner). Result: no dinner. Arse!

2. The OU ate my motivation

The Big Challenge Essay at the end of my OU course traditionally allows a choice from the three (3) course themes. The one I wanted to do was "knowledge and knowing", because we're all about the sociology of knowledge up at the chteau. But this year there are only two (2) choices, and that isn't either of them. Arse!

3. The Grauniad ate my comprehension

A story about the disastrous implications of 9/11 for Swissarmyknives, which is all very poignant, then this:

Now the Swiss firm is fighting back [against Chinese clones]. Last month it registered the deep red colour of its Swiss army knives as a patent.

"Design patents" are such a magnificent impediment to clarity of discourse, isn't it? They should patent the *&%$ing things as an obfuscation mechanisme.


2005-07-05 15:36

Spanish or Italian?

We were thinking of learning Italian, but at the moment we're leaning towards Spanish, largely because we seem to have more Spanishness thrust upon us. Even if Spain doesn't have Donald Duck comics and we don't like any Spanish foopball teams and we like our lunch at lunch-time, dammit.

Sigh. Maybe we'll learn Spanish badly; that'll teach 'em, eh?


2005-07-05 12:18

In the future all rock'n'rollbands will be the Rolling Stones

And the future is already here! Sonic Youth, Saxon, Iron Maiden are all still touring. We don't get it.

We liked it better back when there was still enough grand narrative in the world that obsolete bands were relegated to nostalgia tours. You can call it postmodern all you like, we call it decadence. Decadence, d'you hear?


2005-07-05 10:52

If the sun don't come you get a tan from standing in the English rain

Blessed, blessed again and thrice blessed are thy dreary grey skies and gentle drizzle, O Blighty!

Oh it is nice to sleep under the bed clothes for a change.


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